Previous reviewers of Chicago based doom metal act Novembers Doom may have set the band up for failure in the eyes of many potential new fans by superfluously comparing them favorably to crowned genre giant Opeth, a band that has yet to be dethroned by the crop of newer death metal hordes. Novembers Doom is unquestionably a talented and innovative group, but unrealistically marketing them as a successor or even replacement for a band like Opeth has probably done them more harm than good. The title track of The Pale Haunt Departure starts off very strong with eerie distorted voices calling out from the void coupled with a building drum beat that is clearly leading into some mind blowing metal insanity. This is unfortunately where the flop happens for both the title track and nearly every other track on the entire album.
All of The Pale Haunt Departure’s songs have such excellently crafted intro segments that it would be nearly inconceivable that the music following the introduction could be anything but blazing new territory into the hallowed halls of metal history. While each song has merit on its own, they all go sharply downhill in quality after the first thirty to forty-five seconds with a tendency to plod along boringly without even a hint of the flavor shown at the beginning of the song. The songs are all solid, ranging from tolerable to absolutely great, but it’s hard to appreciate them after hearing the near perfect intros.
The vocalist for November’s Doom has a surprisingly clear and understandable death metal growl, but regrettably he doesn’t seem to have a very wide range, as the tone of the growls remain consistently the exact same throughout the entire album. The clean vocals vary between laughably silly and really good, which is something that extreme metal enthusiasts just have to live with. Towards the beginning of the second track “Swallowed By The Moon”, there is some clean talking rather than actual melodic singing and it is black metal cheese at its worst, but the clean singing during the rest of the track is surprisingly good. Acoustic interludes, and even completely acoustic songs, are scattered throughout the album with enough variety to be interesting and keep the listener’s interest. The only exception would be in the song “Through A Child’s Eyes”. While it is a great mild song on its own, they definitely should have left out the background sounds of a baby cooing, which seems completely out of place on an otherwise doom oriented album.
If Novembers Doom had just somehow continued to incorporate the themes of each intro throughout the entire track, and hadn’t made almost every song repetitive and boring after the first half minute this honestly could have been one of the top 10 metal albums of all time. Maybe after a few more albums when the vocalist has had a chance to expand his range considerably and the band can refine their sound then Novembers Doom could feasibly compare to Opeth. As it currently stands, Novembers Doom is a solid metal act, but nothing to burn a church over.